The Quran is an Arabic text, most of the Muslim world do not speak Arabic, therefore rely on a translation into their mother tongue. Now a group of scholars has re-visited the translation to ensure its as accurate as possible, and leaving no room for extremism.
Many, including myself, have tried to translate the Quran according to the spirit and context of the verses. My humble effort is located here, and my explanation of the method I have used is here. The reason so many people, and myself felt the need to do this is the catastrophic effects of mistranslated, or misunderstood of verses that some people take more seriously than life and death. Mehdi Hasan, a journalist for Al Jazeera, said during the panel discussion at Georgetown: “I never advise a non-Muslim who wants to find out more about Islam to blindly grab the nearest copy of an English-language Quran they can find.” A worrying comment.
However now a professional team led by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, one of the most distinguished Muslim scholars in the world has completed a translation which will properly inform the reader of the true meanings. Ten years in the making, “The Study Quran” is more than a rebuttal to terrorists, said Seyyed Hossein Nasr. His aim was to produce an accurate, unbiased translation understandable to English-speaking Muslims, scholars and general readers. Unfortunately up until now most Qurans are printed or funded by Saudi Arabia who promote a version of Islam that is known as Wahabism. People who follow that sect refer to themselves as “Salafis”, however the vast majority of Muslims are reading the Salafi appended Quran and are completely unaware. Extremist groups such as ISIS, Al Nusra and Boko Haram are Salafi groups, they follow the Salafi ideology. In fact, this no mere academic debate. Followers of the Saudi-Wahhabi-Salafi version of Islam in Europe and the United States are increasingly seen by law enforcement as a pool from which radical jihadis can draw recruits.
I have not been able to secure my copy yet, so I have to reserve judgement, however if we can take the Salafi scholars reviews as an indicator, it does seem quite positive. They absolutely hate it, which means it must be good 🙂 Where as respected groups like Zaytuna College led by Hamza Yusuf are giving positive reviews and even holding seminars. Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, called it “perhaps the most important work done on the Islamic faith in the English language to date”. Salafi preacher Abu Eesa, was caught off guard when his initial “steer clear” of the Study Quran backfired when so many people asked for reasons why, and examples, he had to back track and refused to give any examples of what he thought was wrong with it. Abu Eesa, has a track record for putting his foot in it, see this article and you might also want to google “Abu Eesa-Gate”.
Thankfully there are educated Muslim academics such as Yasir Qadhi who can at least entertain the idea of progress, he acknowledges that the rigor of The Study Quran “is apparent after even a cursory reading”. Muslim Matters website as also put a review on its website, which is favorable with some minor criticisms.
The start of things to come?
Could we see a time where salafi translations and books are banned? I think so, there are already bans in Egypt, and several other countries. The danger is this is the thin side of the wedge, could they start of banning the questionable Salafi works, but then ban more traditional or mainstream texts?